November 11, 2014

The Hope of Heaven, Part 2

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  

Romans 8:18 (NIV)

The hope of Heaven offers us perspective for the future, and power to live today, despite the circumstances and hardships we may endure.  If anyone was qualified to say that his present sufferings were not worth comparing with the glory that would be revealed in him, it was the Apostle Paul. Here was a guy who had been beaten five times with thirty-nine lashes of a whip; three times, he was beaten with rods; once stoned and left for dead; and three times, he was shipwrecked.  In 2 Corinthians 11, he said, I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 

I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (Vs. 26-27 NLT) Just half of that would be enough to make you want to quit and walk away!  How could Paul keep the faith amid so much adversity and hardship?  Because he had an eternal perspective! Temporary hardship seems insignificant when compared to what God has in store for us!  What are you going through right now?  Faith isn’t living in denial.  It isn’t denying the pain and hurt we feel, or speaking it away as though it isn’t real.  Faith is trusting that, one day, God will right every wrong.  One day, God will bring us into His eternal presence with joy!  One day, God will say “Welcome home!”  When you have the confidence of Heaven as your eternal home, you understand what Paul meant when he wrote these words of encouragement to the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT) “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”